Leaders of three US organizations representing nearly a third of a million physicians today visited Capitol Hill offices to express their continued concern for America’s patients who do not have access to primary care physicians.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represent the majority of physicians who care for Medicare patients.
The leaders noted that only 17 percent of U.S. medical school graduates in 2008 expressed a preference for a primary care specialty – an all-time low – at a time when demand for primary care is rapidly increasing.
“Unless Congress takes action very soon to stop this precipitous drain on the numbers of primary care physicians in the United States, health care costs will continue to skyrocket while the quality of overall care will decrease,” said Ted Epperly, MD, president of the AAFP. “While sub-specialist care is certainly important to achieving a healthy public, such fragmented care cannot take the place of a primary care physician who can diagnose and treat the vast majority of patients in the office.”
The AAFP, ACP and AOA urge Congress to take advantage of this historic opportunity for change and enact health care reforms that:
– invest in training more primary care doctors;
– implement new payment models to support patient-centered primary care; and
– reform and enhance Medicare payments to recruit more physicians into primary care and support those already in practice.
The organizations believe that increased funding for competitive grants for training programs in medical schools and in residency programs extend far beyond the medical schools that receive them. The United States lags behind other countries in its focus on primary care. However, the evidence shows that countries with primary care-based health systems have population health outcomes that are better than those of the United States, and at lower costs. The organizations specifically called for increased funding for the National Health Services Corps and primary care training programs funded out of Title VII, and creating additional scholarships and loan repayment programs for physicians who choose primary care careers. In addition, they called for creation of a national commission on workforce to recommend goals for the numbers and distribution of physicians, including primary care physicians.
Source: American College of Physicians, USA